Taiwan blasts Elon Musk over latest China comments

September 14, 2023 - 10:03 AM
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Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk attends the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China August 29, 2019. (Reuters/Aly Song/File Photo)

TAIPEI Taiwan is “not for sale,” the island’s foreign minister said in a stern rebuke to Elon Musk who asserted Taiwan was an integral part of China, as the billionaire again waded into the thorny issue relations between Beijing and Taipei.

Musk, the owner of the social media platform X formerly known as Twitter, as well as the Tesla TSLA.O electric car company and Starlink satellite network, made the comments to the All-In Summit in Los Angeles uploaded to YouTube this week.

“Their (Beijing’s) policy has been to reunite Taiwan with China. From their standpoint, maybe it is analogous to Hawaii or something like that, like an integral part of China that is arbitrarily not part of China mostly because … the U.S. Pacific Fleet has stopped any sort of reunification effort by force,” he said.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, in a post on X late Wednesday, responded that he hoped Musk could ask China to “open @X to its people”. China blocks X, along with other major Western social media like Facebook.

“Perhaps he thinks banning it is a good policy, like turning off @Starlink to thwart Ukraine’s counterstrike against Russia,” Wu added, referring to Musk’s refusing a Ukrainian request to activate his Starlink satellite network in Crimea’s port city of Sevastopol last year to aid an attack on Russia’s fleet there.

“Listen up, Taiwan is not part of the PRC & certainly not for sale!” Wu said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

Taiwan’s democratically elected government strongly rejects China’s sovereignty claims, and says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

This is not the first time Musk, whose Tesla had a large factory in Shanghai, has riled Taiwan.

Last October, he suggested that tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing, drawing a similarly strong reprimand from Taiwan.

– Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Stephen Coates